The Queen's Speech is usually one of the highlight's of the parliamentary year - but this year it seemed very slimmed down (and as a small state Tory I have no problem with that) but the relative lack of business does demonstrate a certain lack of focus and direction on the part of the government. However, whatever Brown's last full parliamentary year hailed, it was unlikely to beat the statement by Speaker Martin, which really did give us a marvellous parliamentary occasion.
It wasn't really much to do with what he said - although the revelations about the police not having a warrant may cause problems for the Acting Commissioner - but the tone and manner of the Point-of-Order contributions that followed it. What followed was a general cross party debate, where party advantage wasn't pressed and where the primacy of the Commons was at stake. MPs of all sides showed the dignified and serious response that this situation demands. The contributions from former Tory Leaders Michael Howard and Iain Duncan Smith, former LibDem Leader Sir Ming Campbell, former Minister Denis McShane, former cabinet minister Douglas Hogg and Tory grandee Sir Patrick Cormack delivered well presented, relevant and forensic insights into the current problem - demonstrating why our parliamentary democracy needs former frontbenchers to stay in the House to use their wisdom and experience in such a way. And when Ashford MP Damian Green spoke it was to deliver a perfectly crafted and devasting attack on the whole affair.
This clearly isn't the end of the matter and it will go on; however I think a competent performance by Speaker Martin may guarantee his job for a while yet. However if this gets worse then he could yet be in trouble.
What made me smile was the govenrment mortgage plan; not in the Queen's Speech but announced today, knocking the Green affair off the top media slot. Deliberate? From Brown? Hasn't he given up spin?
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